A calls to pick up binoculars to see Gaza innocent victims

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Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga has issued an appeal for an end to hostilities and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. “A permanent ceasefire, is just the first step on the road to a just peace based on inclusive negotiations across the region,” said the President of Caritas Internationalis and coordinator of the Council of Cardinals that is assisting Pope Francis in Church government in a document outlining the situation in Gaza, Vatican Radio reports. The Honduran cardinal is calling for a laying down of arms, recalling that the majority of victims are innocent people.

The cardinal’s reflections are a response to the “devastating” war that is turning all hopes for a peaceful future to ash. He pointed out that the permanent ceasefire Caritas has called for must lead to “a just peace based on inclusive negotiations across the region.” The road to reconciliation is long but it starts with us, the cardinal said asking the two sides in the conflict: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?” He urged them to lay down their arms and pick up their binoculars so that they could see that most victims are innocent people.

Referring to past wars in the Strip, Caritas’ efforts and the living conditions of the Palestinians, he called for an end to the blockade on Gaza so that its inhabitants could live a dignified life.

The cardinal then mentioned Francis’ meeting with presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas and Benedict XV’s words during the First World War about force being able “to repress the body, but it cannot repress the souls of men.”

The cardinal prayed that “the souls of Palestinians and Israelis will remain free to believe in a future of justice and peace.”

“May Christ ignite in everyone the willingness to overcome the obstacles that divide us, strengthen the bonds of reciprocal charity, to understand others and forgive those who have wronged us.” “Since early July,” the cardinal stressed, “almost two million Palestinians in Gaza and people in Israel have been caught up in a devastating war.”

People have no safe place to hide. “They see their children slaughtered, their neighbourhoods razed to the ground and al their hopes for a peaceful future reduced to ash.”

The cardinal pointed out that this was the third time in five years that Israel and Gaza militants went to war, underlining the tough living conditions of the Palestinians, whom Caritas is trying to support materially and spiritually. Hence the appeal for the blockade to be lifted in order to allow inhabitants to “protect their own lives and means of survival and live a dignified life.”

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga cited Pope Francis’ words on the courage which peace requires, which he addressed to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents during their visit to the Vatican. The cardinal called on people to pray with Caritas for peace in the Holy Land, for the Palestinian and Israeli families that have lost children, for those who have died and for the “children who live in terror and whose mental scars will run deep … after this war is over.”

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By Domenico Agasso jr